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Public Health Genomics. 2009;12(4):203-15. doi: 10.1159/000167801. Epub 2008 Oct 31.

Engaging the public on biobanks: outcomes of the BC biobank deliberation.

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University of British Columbia, The W. Maurice Young Centre for Applied Ethics, Vancouver, B.C., Canada.


In April 2007, a research team led by M. Burgess conducted a public engagement, the BC Biobank Deliberation, focused on the issue of biobanks. The project was motivated by an observation that current policy approaches to social and ethical issues surrounding biobanks manifest certain democratic deficits. The public engagement was informed by political theory on deliberative democracy with the aim of informing biobanking policies, in particular in British Columbia (BC), Canada. The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive outline of the conclusions reached by the deliberants (both recommendations based on consensus and issues that emerged as persistent disagreements). However, the process whereby the specific conclusions to be delivered to policy makers are identified is not a self-evident process. We thus provide a critical analysis of how the results of a public engagement such as the BC Biobank Deliberation can be conceptualized given the context of a large qualitative data set and an imperative to provide useful information to policy makers, while honoring the mandate under which deliberants were recruited. In particular, we make the case for distinguishing between deliberative outputs of public engagement and analytical outputs that are the product of social scientific analyses of such engagements.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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